New York Doctor to Pay Nearly $130,000 for Alleged Involvement in Kickback Scheme

by Andrew Murray | July 10th, 2019

On July 5, 2019, the Department of Justice announced a settlement agreement with George Lehner, a physician who allegedly accepted illegal kickback payments from OK Compounding. L.L.C. The case followed an investigation into healthcare providers that prescribed OK Compounding products in exchange for kickbacks. The press release states:

A New York doctor has agreed to pay the government $127,072.34 for allegedly accepting illegal kickback payments from OK Compounding, L.L.C., announced U.S. Attorney Trent Shores.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Oklahoma entered into a settlement agreement with George Lehner, 46, a medical doctor, in an effort to recoup the costs to the U.S. government resulting from the illegal kickbacks. This civil settlement resulted from an investigation into numerous health care providers writing prescriptions for pain creams compounded and sold by OK Compounding in return for kickback payments.

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Beginning in 2014 and continuing into 2015, Dr. Lehner prescribed compounded pain creams for his patients, facilitating the sale and distribution of the creams.  As compensation for his services, OK Compounding paid Dr. Lehner what was characterized by the parties as “medical director fees” based upon an hourly rate.  However, the payments Dr. Lehner received from the company were, in actuality, “kickbacks.” Because Dr. Lehner’s patients were insured with Medicare, a federal health insurance program for people over 65 years of age and for certain younger individuals with some disability status, the kickbacks were in violation of the False Claims Act.  It is illegal to pay or receive “kickbacks” in conjunction with federal health care insurance.

Prohibitions against kickbacks are crucial to insure that financial motives do not undermine the medical judgment of physicians and other health care providers.  The civil False Claims Act is an important tool used to protect the integrity of taxpayer-funded health care programs.

The settlement resolves allegations that Dr. Lehner had an illegal financial relationship with OK Compounding, concerning pain creams from April of 2014 through March of 2015.

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